A New Year…

A new year has started. In the Netherlands we have a tradition that a comedian looks back upon the year and its ups and downs. For years this has been Youp van ‘t Hek, but this time Herman Finkers was asked. Unfortunately there isn’t an English version available. But he made some good points:

-“The third World War could already have started in Syria.”

-“Religion, Art and Humor are interlocked. When religion can’t stand jokes and an iconoclasm is started, hell opens instead of heaven.”

-“There is a lot going wrong in the church. They regard homosexuality as unnatural, but as are walking on water or rising from the death after three days. We could also conclude that homosexuality is a miracle…

I hope that the ink black idea that there will be another world war can be countered, but fear for the worst. As an antidote Finkers suggested these old words:

“Ubi caritas et amor
Deus ibi est”

(Where there is charity and love, there is God.)

I think he is right. Whatever diety you may believe in. What is our answer to violence and terrorism? It’s a natural reaction to lock ourselves up in a safe place. Closing the borders, and spending more on defense. But in the long run this will work against us and only give rise to a war. There is more power in vulnerability than there is in offence. In dark it is better to light a fire than to curse the darkness.

I know this isn’t easy, far from it. It calls for responsibility, courage and trust. And sometimes war is inevitable, but we should do everything possible to prevent it. In the end a war only has losers. The only people who gain by it are those higher up in the food chain. Civilians and soldiers have little to gain and everything to loose. The only way to gain something is to share.

In the Catholic Church 2016 is labeled the “Year of Mercy”. It’s logo shows a depiction of “The Good Samaritan”. In Dutch the word mercy is translated as “Barmhartigheid” which could also be translated as “Solidarity”. Over the last years “Towards A New Solidarity” has been a theme in Taizé, in their “Pilgrimage of Trust”. Last year a beautiful icon has been comissioned for the church. It shows Christ in a mandorla, surrounded by depictions of the story of “De Barmhartige Samaritaan” as we say in Dutch.

Happy, blessed and peaceful 2016!

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